Monday, August 26, 2013

Zombies By Choice?

Neil Postman, in his prophetic book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse In The Age of Show Business (1985) compares two views of a dystopian future: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) Though we lump these two works into a single category along with other such books, there are profound differences between Huxley’s and Orwell’s  visions.

Orwell wrote about a society ruled by fear and repression; Huxley wrote about one benumbed by entertainment and trivia. In one, books are banned; in the other, banning is not needed because nobody bothers to read anyway.

Both societies lead, in their own way, to the death of the soul. And though there are plenty of instances of repression and intimidation in contemporary western society, especially in the form of politically correct expectations, it is through the media’s trivialization of our daily lives that our civilization is most imperiled. In our choices of popular music, TV, movies, and cultural obsessions, we are becoming, nearly literally, the very zombies that are currently so fascinating to our young, and not-so-young…

Oh, my. Jack Niewold's columns are as sharp, provocative, and relevant as always. Don't miss out -- read the rest of  "Who Was Right, Orwell or Huxley?" You'll be thinking about it for days. And, if you'd like, you can even talk about the article with a couple of like-minded souls. Pat Osborne and I are going to make it the featured part of this Thursday morning's coffee confab at Westroad's Panera's.